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Updated: 11 hours 22 min ago

Belize moratorium on offshore oil activity landmark step forward for marine conservation

18. August 2017 - 2:00
Belmopan, Belize, 18 August 2017– The Belize government's decision today to introduce critical legislation to establish a permanent moratorium on offshore oil activity in and around the Belize Barrier Reef has been welcomed by WWF, Oceana and other members of the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage as a landmark step forward for the World Heritage site and marine conservation globally.
 
The move to stop damaging oil exploration in Belize's territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone, expected to be adopted in the country's next parliamentary session in November 2017, marks an important first step toward protecting coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide and safeguarding the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, a significant biodiversity hotspot.
 
"At a time when nature is under increasing pressure and being lost at an unprecedented and accelerating rate, we are beginning to realise its irreplaceable contribution to our own economy and welfare. The Belize government's commitment to protect the Belize Barrier Reef sets an example for the kind of leadership we urgently need to protect our planet's oceans and some of its most productive, outstanding - and yet, extremely vulnerable - places," said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International.
 
The Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, is home to almost 1,400 species and serves as a critical source of livelihood for over half of Belize's population. In October 2016, a decision to allow seismic testing for oil barely one kilometre away from the site caused national and global outcry over concerns on the potential impact on the site and its unique ecosystems.
 
"Last year's mobilization showed how we stand united in our determination to protect the reef - a source of life, tradition and pride for all of us in Belize. We are heartened by today's decision which demonstrates the government's commitment to protect our national treasure," said Nadia Bood, Mesoamerican Reef Scientist at WWF. "We now need to continue our efforts, as decision-makers, civil society and individuals, to ensure the reef and its remarkable biodiversity is safeguarded for marine life and communities for years to come."
 
"The catalyst for change has, and will always be, the will of the people. On the issue of offshore oil exploration in one of the world's most unique marine environments, the unwavering engagement of Belizeans, the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage members and the global community has been the constant factor that has brought us to this point in our democracy, " said Oceana's Vice President in Belize, Janelle Chanona. "Once enacted, this legislation would signal Prime Minister Barrow's administration's recognition that the quality of our lives directly depends on the integrity of natural resources and that the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of Belizeans who depend on the reef are not disposable. This legislation will also make Belize a leader in protecting corals and safeguarding coastal and marine ecosystems—actions that will hopefully prompt similar actions around the world."
 
A WWF assessment published in June this year showed the Belize Barrier Reef to be under threat from offshore oil drilling and damaging coastal construction. While the ban on offshore oil activity would be significant progress, urgent action to strengthen mangrove regulation and limit the sale of public land in the World Heritage site is also needed.
 
Reef-related tourism and fisheries support around 190,000 people in Belize. The annual economic contribution of reef-related tourism, fisheries and scientific research is estimated to be around 15 per cent of Belize's gross domestic product (GDP).
 
For 30 years WWF has been working to conserve Belize's unique biodiversity, tackling its greatest threats while improving the lives of vulnerable communities, as part of its integral scope in the Mesoamerican Reef System. 
 
Like the Belize Barrier Reef, nearly half of natural World Heritage sites worldwide are threatened by industrial pressures, putting the livelihoods and well-being of communities who depend on them at risk and threatening their long-term viability. WWF's campaign, Together Saving Our Shared Heritage, is working to strengthen the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and reinforce the OECD guidelines that protect these sites. To date, over 400,000 people have expressed their support for the protection of the Belize World Heritage site through the campaign.
 
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Notes to Editors:
WWF photos and videos for use along with copyright information are available for download here.
Oceana photos and videos for use along with copyright information are available for download  here.
The WWF report Protecting People through Nature on the importance of natural World Heritage sites to communities and wildlife and the threats they face is available here.
The report Too Precious to Drill: The Marine Biodiversity of Belize outlining why Belize's marine environment needs to be protected from oil activities can be found here.
 
For more information, please contact:
Nadia Bood nbood@wwfca.org | 501-602-6015| Skype: nboodwwfca
Janelle Chanona jchanona@oceana.org |501-610-2358| Skype: jchanona.oceana

WWF deeply concerned over imminent certification of Mexican tuna fishery

5. August 2017 - 2:00
Gland, Switzerland, 5 August 2017 – WWF has expressed its deep concern at the likely Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of the Northeastern Tropical Pacific tuna dolphin-set purse seine fishery. WWF had previously objected to this certification proposal due to its belief that impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations have not been sufficiently examined and addressed, therefore not meeting the MSC standard. An independent adjudicator assigned to consider the objection has now dismissed WWF's challenge.  
 
"This is a deeply troubling outcome that we believe shows that the MSC standard is not consistently being adhered to by certifiers and that the objections procedure provides insufficient opportunity for consideration of the scientific basis for certifiers' conclusions," said Franck Hollander, Seafood Officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on this project.
 
In the waters of the Eastern Pacific, one technique used for decades to catch tuna involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, contributing to high dolphin mortality. Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed by this practice, it is yet unknown whether populations have recovered from dramatic declines that began in the late 1950s and continued though the early 1990s.
 
In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to the MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.
 
 "While WWF continues to support the MSC as the world's leading wild-caught sustainable seafood certification program, it remains our opinion that the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine tuna fishery does not meet the MSC standard. Depleted dolphin populations that frequently associate with commercially-targeted schools of tuna in the Eastern Pacific could be negatively impacted by this fishery. WWF believes the existing science does not support the conclusions made in the assessment," Hollander said.
 
"WWF urges all stakeholders to work together to improve fishing practices and the availability of up-to-date scientific information on the impacted dolphin stocks in order to quantify and address any impacts of the fishery," said Enrique Sanjurjo, Lead, Food Practice, WWF-Mexico.
 
WWF recommends that seafood buyers should not consider this fishery as sustainable.
 
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For media requests, please contact:
Rucha Naware | WWF International | rnaware@wwfint.org | +44 739 377 6573
 
For technical questions, please contact:
Franck Hollander | WWF-Germany | franck.hollander@wwf.de
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media
 
 

Snaring crisis devastating Asia's wildlife, jeopardizing decades of tiger conservation efforts

29. July 2017 - 2:00
29 July 2017 – On Global Tiger Day today, WWF is urging tiger-range governments to strengthen anti-poaching efforts and crack down on a severe wildlife snaring crisis that is threatening wildlife across Asia, especially the world's remaining wild tigers, which number only around 3,900.
 
Easy to make from widely available material such as bicycle cable wires and quick to set up, wire snares are deadly traps that are fast becoming the plague of Asia's forests. Driven by the growing illegal wildlife trade, which is now reaching an estimated US$20 billion annually[1], poachers are increasingly using snares to trap wild tigers, elephants, leopards and other animals that are in high demand in the black market.  
 
"Snares are dangerous, insidious and quickly becoming a major contributor to the wave of extinction that is spreading throughout Southeast Asia – and tigers are being swept up in this crisis. All efforts to recover wild tigers are now imperiled by snaring on a massive scale. We cannot over emphasize the need for strong government commitment and investment in rangers who are on the frontline of conservation, clearing snares and apprehending those who set them," said Mike Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tigers Alive.
 
In the rare occasion that a wild tiger is able to escape a snare, it suffers debilitating injuries that prevent it from hunting, eventually causing it to die of starvation or infection. In addition, snares maim or kill any animal that activates them thus dealing a double blow to wild tigers, by trapping the prey base they need to survive and reproduce.
 
"It's impossible to know how many snares are being set up every day, and threatening wildlife in these critical habitats. Hundreds of thousands of deadly snares are removed by rangers from Asia's protected areas annually, but this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Rohit Singh, wildlife law enforcement expert at WWF.
 
Within the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the only place on Earth where wild tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos are found in the same habitat, snare traps are estimated to have doubled between 2006 and 2014[2]
 
Yet, many of such critical habitats lack adequate resources for protection. In nearby Rimbang Baling, one of several protected areas in Sumatra, there are only two full-time government rangers out of a total of 26 mostly community-based rangers. Together, they patrol over 1,400 square kilometres, an area equivalent to nearly twice the size of New York City.
 
"Removing these silent traps is not enough. Rangers on the ground must be supported by greater resources and strong legislation to take action against illegal poachers with snares," added Singh. "In addition, local communities must also be recognized and empowered as stakeholders in conservation. Protecting biodiversity is in the interest of both wildlife and people and communities can play a critical role in safeguarding vital ecosystems."
 
In the Gunung Leuser National Park, which makes up just about a third of the entire World Heritage site in Sumatra, ecosystem services are valued at over US$ 600 million per year, while the park stores over 1.6 billion tons of carbon and provides water to four million people[3]. Local communities rely heavily on these critical resources to survive, making it an even stronger imperative to halt the snaring crisis, and help safeguard the livelihoods of local communities.
 
As snares tighten their grip across Asia, conservation organizations across the continent are calling for urgent action. For example, in Cambodia, conservation groups led by Wildlife Alliance are launching an awareness movement to educate the public on avoiding the consumption of wild meat, which further fuels the snaring crisis.
 
In 2010, tiger range governments committed to the most ambitious conservation goal set for a single species – TX2, or the global goal to double wild tigers by 2022. Since 2016, the long trend of decline in global wild tiger numbers has halted for now and may even begin to rise, signaling a beacon of hope for global tiger conservation. Without urgent efforts to strengthen anti-poaching and reinforce investments in rangers, the poaching crisis will turn the trend back towards decline.
 
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Notes to Editors
  1. Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to reach USD20 billion per year, which makes wildlife trafficking the world's 4th largest illicit trade, after narcotics, human trafficking and trade in counterfeit goods.
  2. The number of snare traps in Sumatra recorded in 2013 and 2014 are doubled, when compared to the preceding eight years, suggesting a higher number of poachers in the area. Data is based on a study by D. Risdianto et al., Biological Conservation, Vol. 204 Part B, pp. 306-312, 2016.
  3. Based on WWF's report, 'Not for Sale', 2017, by Dalberg Global Development Advisors.

For further information
WWF International Media teamnews@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116
Jialing Lim
Communications Manager, WWF Tigers Alive jllim@wwfnet.org | +65 9298 0961
 
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for latest news and media resources. 

EU Court of Justice orders Poland to halt logging in Bialowieza Forest

28. July 2017 - 2:00
Warsaw, Poland – In response to the Court of Justice of the European Union's decision to halt logging in Bialowieza Forest, Dariusz Gatlowski, Biodiversity Specialist at WWF-Poland, said:
 
"This decision is great news for Bialowieza and the communities that depend on this remarkable forest. By ordering Poland to halt logging, the Court has recognized that these activities are causing serious and irreparable damage in this priceless site. Bialowieza must instead be safeguarded for future generations.
 
"We expect the Polish government to immediately adhere to the Court's order and stop the ongoing destruction of Europe's best preserved lowland forest."
 
The Court of Justice of the European Union decision requires Poland to suspend logging in Bialowieza Forest, except in situations threatening public safety. In practice, this means not only the suspension of the execution of the March 2016 decision by Poland's Minister of the Environment, Jan Szyszko, to allow increased logging in Białowieza Forest District, but also a ban on removing old trees from the remaining parts of the forest.
 
The ban on logging will be in force until the final settlement of the case of Bialowieza Forest by the court.
 
To stop logging in the Bialowieza Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the court based its decision on so-called interim measures. This is an extraordinary legal instrument that suspends an action in question, with immediate effect. The court uses it very rarely - only in cases where there is a serious risk that ongoing activities could cause serious and irreparable damage.
 
The court's decision confirms what the European Commission, UNESCO, most of the scientific community and WWF have previously stressed: increased wood extraction, not a bark beetle infestation, threatens the protected habitats and species in Bialowieza Forest, and logging must be stopped immediately before irreversible damage occurs.

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For more information, please contact:
Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116
 
Notes to Editors:
  • Images are available here.

G20 summit shows ambition on climate and sustainability as need for action grows

8. July 2017 - 2:00
Hamburg, GERMANY (17 July 2017) – As the G20 Leaders' Summit concludes, WWF urges the world's leading industrialized and emerging economies to deliver on their commitment toward ensuring sustainability and resilience for all. The ambition shared in the Leaders' Communiqué released today must be accompanied by concrete actions by G20 countries and governments to bend the curve of accelerating climate change, staggering biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of the planet's natural resources.
 
Today, unprecedented environmental pollution, climate change impacts, biodiversity declines, land degradation and water scarcity are pushing the planet to a tipping point. Collective action on issues such as Green Finance, climate policy, marine pollution and wildlife crime, as outlined in the final G20 declaration, is urgently needed to help prevent irreversible damage to global societies and economies and ensure stability and security in the world's most vulnerable regions.
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice, said: "By accelerating progress under both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the G20 group of nations can help move the sustainability agenda forward. Acknowledging the irreversible momentum set forth by the Paris climate deal, leaders have shown their determination to join countries and non-State actors worldwide in creating a global socio-economic transformation that will shape our national economies, people's well-being and prosperity for years to come.''
 
At the Summit, all G20 members, except the US, committed to ensuring full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, through cooperation on enhanced delivery of national climate contributions, delivering long-term plans by 2020 and with independent monitoring of the shifting of financial flows. Their pledge comes just weeks after US president Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the global climate agreement approved in December 2015.
 
"Implementing the Paris Agreement is in the interest of each nation. Effective climate strategies can help unlock new business and employment opportunities, renewable energy, health benefits, and a sustainable future for all. As G20 leaders join cities, companies and individuals around the globe in committing toward a climate-safe future, it must be crystal clear that there is no place for fossil fuels in this scenario. We can be stronger together for climate but we need to translate ambition into action now," said Pulgar-Vidal.
 
In addition to climate change, leaders at the G20 summit also discussed opportunities and challenges linked to Green Finance and its role in shifting financial flows worldwide toward greater sustainability by taking climate and environmental risks into account.
 
The forum also looked at the important link between wildlife crime and corruption for the first time, with a G20 Action Plan specifically highlighting the profound economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts of illegal wildlife trade.
 
Margaret Kinnaird, leader of WWF's global Wildlife Practice, said: "Wildlife crime not only threatens our planet's incredible wildlife but it is also harming the lives, livelihoods and human rights of local communities who have depended on their surrounding resources and ecosystems for centuries. We urge Argentina as the next G20 president to build on the legacy of Germany's outgoing presidency and make wildlife crime a priority to help stave off global biodiversity loss and promote sustainable use of natural resources."
 
Moving forward, WWF also urges the upcoming Presidency to continue the group's focus on marine pollution, calling for the definition of timeframes and responsibilities under the Action Plan on Marine Litter and concrete measures such as the development, funding and knowledge-sharing of national legal frameworks facilitating better integrated waste management systems through extended producer responsibility and sustainable financing.
 
On 1 December 2017, Argentina will take over the G20 Presidency and organize the G20 summit in 2018. It will be the second G20 summit to be held in Latin America.

For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org or Rucha Nawara rnawara@wwfint.org. 

WWF campaign win: Spain must now commit to stop dredging inside outstanding wetland site

5. July 2017 - 2:00
Krakow, Poland - The efforts of campaigners to inform experts on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee of the threats faced by Doñana, a rare and outstanding wetland in Europe, has ensured that requests on Spain to protect the site were maintained.
 
The Spanish government and other committee members moved today to relax what is asked of them, which would have created an uncertain future for Doñana.
 
In a campaign win for WWF and other conservation bodies, Spain was forced to end plans for dredging the river, and WWF now calls on Spain to keep to this promise and build on it, as there is much more to do.
 
The Committee recognised that current levels of water abstraction from the aquifer, if continued, would threaten the outstanding natural value of the site. If cared for, Doñana need not face a future on the 'in-danger' list, which remains a risk.
 
Doñana is one of Europe's few outstanding wetlands, and the continent's most important location for migratory birds. The site harbours over 4,000 types of plants and animals, including threatened birds and the world's rarest feline species, the Iberian lynx. In addition to its environmental value, the park provides for the wellbeing of 200,000 nearby residents, with jobs from fishing, farming, research and ecotourism.
 
WWF has been calling on the Spanish government for many years to protect and recover Doñana's water sources. Specifically, it must:
  • Cancel definitively dredging of the Guadalquivir River
  • Eliminate the 1,000 illegal wells, and 3,000 hectares of illegal farming fields as per the land use plan of the Andalusian government
  • Prohibit all mining and gas projects that could threaten Doñana
 
"Spain now has a chance to safeguard Doñana World Heritage site and all it gives us. WWF calls on the Spanish Government to work together with UNESCO, IUCN and conservationists, to protect this valuable place - or else it will be lost to species, visitors, the economy and future generations," said Eva Hernandez, head of the freshwater programme at WWF Spain.
 
The concern for Doñana has been expressed by thousands of people. More than 150,000 WWF supporters have emailed the Spanish president asking him to save Doñana. Last year, thousands of origami birds sent by activists from across the world were displayed outside the country's parliament in Madrid.
 
WWF has a presence at the meeting in Krakow in a bid to defend sites of outstanding value, such as Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, Bialowieza Forest in Poland, and the Gulf of California, all of which are being discussed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee this week, and have been a focus of its campaign, Saving our Shared Heritage.
 
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For more information, please contact:
Rebecca Clear WWF International rclear@wwfint.org +44 7909 936628 (in Krakow)
Scott Edwards WWF International sedwards@wwfint.org +44 7887 954116 (in UK)
 
Notes to Editors:
 A WWF report "Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development" published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.

WWF urgently appeals to World Heritage Committee to protect Europe's outstanding wetland, Doñana

5. July 2017 - 2:00
Krakow, Poland - Today, Doñana, a rare and outstanding wetland in Europe, is facing a huge threat to its future, as the UNESCO World Heritage Committee comes under pressure to relax its requests on Spain to protect the site.
 
The Spanish government and other committee members are expected to try to relax what is asked of them, creating an uncertain future for Doñana. WWF experts are appealing to the committee today to resist this pressure.
 
Doñana is one of Europe's few outstanding wetlands, and the continent's most important location for migratory birds. The site harbours over 4,000 types of plants and animals, including threatened birds and the world's rarest feline species, the Iberian lynx. In addition to its environmental value, the park provides for the wellbeing of 200,000 nearby residents, with jobs from fishing, farming, research and ecotourism.
 
WWF has been calling on the Spanish government for many years to protect and recover Doñana's water sources. Specifically, it must:
  • Cancel definitively dredging of the Guadalquivir River
  • Eliminate the 1,000 illegal wells, and 3,000 hectares of illegal farming fields as per the land use plan of the Andalusian government
  • Prohibit all mining and gas projects that could threaten Doñana
The UNESCO draft decision relating to this must retain key elements which require Spain to safeguard the site from the identified threats.
 
The concern for Doñana has been expressed by thousands of people. More than 150,000 WWF supporters have emailed the Spanish president asking him to save Doñana. Last year, thousands of origami birds sent by activists from across the world were displayed outside the country's parliament in Madrid.
 
WWF has a presence at the meeting in Krakow in a bid to defend sites of outstanding value, such as Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, Bialowieza Forest in Poland, and the Gulf of California, all of which are being discussed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee this week, and have been a focus of its campaign, Saving our Shared Heritage.

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For more information, please contact:
Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116 Notes to Editors:
Images are available here.
 
About Doñana
The Doñana wetland complex includes a World Heritage site, a natural park and four Natura 2000 sites. Doñana's diverse ecosystems provide habitats for up to six million migratory birds each year and half a million wintering birds. The area is home to over 1,500 plant species, almost 2,000 animal species and 500 species of microorganisms. 
In addition, wetland ecosystems, such as Doñana, provide many services that support the livelihoods and well-being of people. These include fish, fresh water supplies, climate regulation, flood regulation, and coastal protection.
A WWF report "Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development"published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.
The draft decision relating to Białowieża Forest is to be considered at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Poland on Wednesday 5 July can be found here

Host of World Heritage meeting failing to protect own forest

4. July 2017 - 2:00
Krakow, Poland - A protest organised by a coalition of environmental NGOs in Poland today outside the 41st session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee shed light on the plight of the host country's ancient Białowieża Forest, which is under serious threat of large-scale logging.
 
WWF took part in the protest, and continues to urge the Committee delegates to be vigilant to attempts to weaken the protections for Białowieża Forest. WWF highlights the danger logging poses to the irreplaceable value of the site, which is scheduled to be discussed on Wednesday at the UNESCO meeting.
 
"It is extremely concerning that an area recognized as having such outstanding value can so easily come under threat. The Polish minister of the environment is disregarding the concern of its own people - clearly voiced by the protest here - in order to pursue its own agenda." said Aslihan Tumer, Head of Global Campaigns at WWF International.
 
The Białowieża Forest World Heritage site lies on the border between Poland and Belarus and covers an area of over 140,000 hectares. Home to thousands of species including the largest population of European bison, it has been described by UNESCO as an "irreplaceable area for biodiversity conservation."
 
"Europe's best preserved ancient forest is facing an existential threat. We should be doing everything we can to protect it, not opening it up for intensified logging. We urge the Polish government to stop logging and safeguard Białowieża for future generations and stand by its UNESCO commitments," said Dariusz Gatkowski, Biodiversity Policy Specialist, WWF-Poland.
 
WWF reiterates the role of the World Heritage Committee in protecting recognized sites and the danger posed by over-politicization. In 2016, a number of advisory body recommendations on the necessary protection for Białowieża Forest were ignored when Committee decisions were taken.
 
Other sites of concern are Doñana National Park, Selous Game Reserve, and Western Caucasus. WWF fears that the Committee may be influenced to weaken the demands it places on the relevant governments responsible for the protection of these special places.
 
"We call on the World Heritage Committee to uphold their role as the guardians of these remarkable sites," added Tumer.

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For more information, please contact:
Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116

WWF objection prompts review of Mexican tuna fishery's impact on dolphins in the Eastern Pacific

23. June 2017 - 2:00
GLAND, Switzerland, 23 June 2017 – The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of an Eastern Pacific tuna fishery has been placed temporarily on hold following strong concerns raised by WWF that impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations in the region have not been fully examined and addressed. 

In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to an MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier of the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment ultimately did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.

The independent adjudicator assigned to consider WWF's objection during a hearing in May has now remanded the decision to certify the fishery. The certifier must now reconsider whether there is sufficient evidence that the fishery is not hindering the recovery of the dolphin species in question. 
 
"The existing science does not support the conclusions made in the original assessment and is insufficient to show that this fishery meets the MSC standard when considering all fishery impacts on depleted dolphins in the region," said Franck Hollander, Seafood Officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on this certification effort. 

In the waters of the Eastern Pacific, one of the techniques used for decades to catch tuna involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, a practice with a history of contributing to high dolphin mortality. Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed by this practice in recent years, it is unknown whether populations have recovered from dramatic declines that began in the late 1950s and continued though the early 1990s.

Hollander added, "Given the historical impact of the fishing technique used by this fishery, it was critical to WWF that the MSC assessment was done carefully and in strict accordance with the MSC requirements.  We are committed as a stakeholder to use our collective expertise to hold the process to account and push for the best possible outcome for the marine environment, fisheries and local communities."

WWF is calling for scientific evidence that the fishery does not likely hinder the recovery of the depleted species directly impacted in order for it to be certified. The certifier now has ten days to respond to the remand. A final decision on the certification is expected once the remand process is complete.

"As this fishery strives to meet the MSC standard, there is an opportunity for all stakeholders to work together to improve fishing practices and the availability of up-to-date scientific information on the impacted dolphin stocks," said Enrique Sanjurjo, Lead, Food Practice, WWF-Mexico.

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For more information, please contact:

Rucha Naware | WWF International | rnaware@wwfint.org | +91 961 916 0232
Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media
 

Croatia: Watershed moment for the Great Waterfall and Plitvice Lakes National Park

22. June 2017 - 2:00
Zagreb – This week, local communities living in and around Croatia's Plitvice National Park and veterans' associations came together to symbolically halt traffic at a wooden bridge near Plitvice Sela to draw attention to the numerous threats facing Croatia's only UNESCO World Heritage site.

Known worldwide for its lakes, Plitvice National Park has long attracted thousands of visitors and interest but in recent years, unprecedented pressure from tourism and ill-planned construction projects threaten to impact the park's waters and biodiversity.

Excessive water use has left the park's Great Waterfall running dry, with only 40 per cent of its maximum water capacity currently available. Unless urgent action is taken, Plitvice National Park could be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

"A series of ill-informed decisions have left Croatia's most precious natural pearl at unprecedented risk. Waste water flows, one of the impacts we are seeing of the uncontrolled increase in tourists and irresponsible construction projects in the area, are already affecting the Great Waterfall and the survival of its unique flora and fauna," said Irma Popović Dujmović, project officer, WWF-Adria. "We cannot risk losing Croatia's icon of protected nature, and the many jobs entire local communities depend on."

1.3 million people are estimated to visit Plitvice National Park annually and since 2010, overnight stays in Plitvice have increased as much as 12-fold to about 39,000. As visits increase, it is critical that the park adopts a sustainable management plan that balances the potential for growth with the need for greater environmental protection.

In the past year, the ministry of construction and spatial planning has issued permits for the construction of 35 new private apartments, bed and breakfasts and restaurants. Even the bridge where people gathered on Wednesday 21 June, is estimated to be crossed every day by dozens of trucks weighing up to 40 tonnes while its maximum capacity is stated to be 3.5 tonnes only.

WWF is calling on the Croatian ministry of construction and spatial planning to urgently start working with the ministry of environmental protection and energy to prevent the destruction of Plitvice Lakes.

In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Plitvice National Park park is also part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas requiring the Croatian government to ensure legal protection of the site against destructive projects.

"We urge the government to work together with local communities and relevant stakeholders to ensure a more sustainable management of the park. By planning projects that involve local communities and take into consideration the natural values of the park, we can ensure Plitvice's beauty and biodiversity are protected while promoting social and economic development for all," added Popović Dujmović.

A WWF report "Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development" published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.
 

WWF stands with victims' families of the devastating forest fire in Portugal

18. June 2017 - 2:00
Lisbon, 18 June 2017 – WWF expresses solidarity with the victims' families and the firemen fighting the ongoing forest fire in Pedrogão Grande, Leiria area, in the center of Portugal. WWF is deeply saddened by the numerous human victims.

The arid and flammable nature of Mediterranean forests (which include Portugal), climate change, human neglect and, above all, the lack of adequate forest management that acts to prevent forest fires, form a lethal combination that threatens forests and the security of local populations.

WWF urges the Portuguese government to take urgent action to prevent forest fires and accelerate the process of "forest reform" that began last year. The focus of efforts should shift from combating forest fires as they arise to preventing them from existing, through responsible long-term forest management. Responsible forest management is more effective and financially more efficient than financing the giant firefighting mechanisms that are employed every year. 

"We are extremelly sad and shocked by this unprecedented tragedy in terms of human victims. We strongly believe that good management practices should prevent forest fires and protect people's lives and livelihoods, "said Rui Barreira from WWF in Portugal.

"The tragedy we are living today in Portugal could happen tomorrow in any country of the Mediterranean region, as well as the world. WWF is calling all Mediterranean governments to engage in better fire prevention strategies yet this summer." added Paolo Lombardi, WWF Mediterranean Director.

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For more information, please contact: Anne Rémy, WWF Mediterranean Director of Communications
Mob. + 39 338 66 06 287 - e-mail: aremy@wwfmedpo.org
Follow us on Twitter: @WWF_Med

First UN Ocean Conference signals global goal out of reach without major new action

9. June 2017 - 2:00
New York, 9 June 2017 – On the concluding day of the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference, WWF calls for unprecedented action to achieve the agreed Ocean sustainable development goal. This comes as member states prepare to endorse a call for action that acknowledges the serious threats to the ocean from overexploitation and climate change, and the need for much greater ambition.
 
John Tanzer, Oceans Leader for WWF International, said: "This historic ocean conference has undoubtedly been the moment the ocean arrived on the main agenda for decision makers from all sectors but the momentum must build from here."
 
"A clear message from the conference is that the ambition, scale of impact and reserves of political will required to tackle the urgent, growing threats to the ocean need to be far higher, or the world will fall a long way short of its agreed global goals."
 
"Notable at this meeting was the clear recognition of how serious the threats are to the ocean and coasts, from widespread habitat destruction and ecosystem degradation, to overfishing and pollution. Overheated, rising and acidifying seas are already wreaking serious harm, from the tropics to the poles. The discussion was less about debating the scale of the threats than about planning and committing on how to tackle them," added Tanzer.
 
"While there has been steady progress in expanding levels of protection of the ocean and in tackling overfishing, as two of the key priorities for global action, it is clearly not nearly enough. It's especially critical for national governments to step up and drive the scaled-up action required. By turning the tide today, we can secure food supplies, livelihoods, sustainable economic opportunities and enhanced wellbeing for hundreds of millions of people."
 
WWF has identified a list of priorities for governments, and all sectors, that it believes will help the world turn around the accelerating decay of ocean systems:
 
  • Protect critical habitats for fisheries, local tourism assets, and for coastal protection to support local communities through effective spatial management measures, with a goal to conserve at least 30 per cent of mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds and all key ecosystems.
  • Urgently reduce carbon emissions to reduce the assault from climate change on coral reefs, mangroves, the Arctic and Antarctica, and other vulnerable ecosystems.
  • Phase out destructive fishing methods, including bottom trawls in vulnerable areas, and ensure bycatch is reduced significantly, and drive real sustainability in fishing, including in the small-scale sector, which warrants far more attention.
  • Adopt an effective global agreement to phase out harmful fisheries subsidies.
  • Fast-track the negotiations of a legally-binding high seas biodiversity agreement to enable integrated ocean management in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • Adopt and implement sound principles and guidelines for public and private investments in the sustainable blue economy.
  • Reduce the production and use of plastics and micro-plastics, and apply recycling and waste management.
 
In addition, leaders must support and promote gender equality especially recognizing the role of women and youth, and authentically empower communities - particularly the least developed, and large ocean states, and indigenous peoples - and those most vulnerable to the decline in ocean health. This is essential to protect the sustainable blue economy and achieve sustainable development for all.
 
"The candour and eagerness to get on with the job we have witnessed in New York has been energizing and a reason for optimism, but we're also running out of time. We need to hold ourselves and each other accountable to our planet and the aspirations and needs of the billions of people represented at this conference, and ensure we come back to future meetings with clear signs of progress," said Tanzer. 
 
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Notes to Editors:
WWF has produced a series of analyses showing the economic value of the 'ocean economy' and guidelines to guide investment in the sustainable blue economy. These can be accessed at: ocean.panda.org
 
For more information, please contact:
Rucha Naware | WWF International | rnaware@wwfint.org | +32465751339
Michael Crispino | WWF-US | michael.crispino@wwfus.org | +1 240 444 3319

Leaders in U.S. Economy Say "We Are Still In' on Paris Climate Agreement

5. June 2017 - 2:00
WASHINGTON, DC -- The broadest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action, today declared their intent to continue to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
 
Together, these leaders are sending a strong signal to the international community and the 194 other parties to the Paris Agreement about the continued commitment of the U.S. to ambitious action on climate change absent leadership at the federal level. In the aggregate, the signatories are delivering concrete emissions reductions that will help meet America's emissions pledge under the Paris Agreement.
 
In response, Lou Leonard, World Wildlife Fund-US senior vice president of climate and energy said: "US leadership on climate change doesn't begin or end in Washington. Focusing on last week's disappointing decision by President Trump misses the bigger story - America is still in this fight.
 
"American companies, cities, states, colleges and universities are banding together to help meet US targets under the Paris Agreement. And it's not just Fortune 500 companies leading the way. From hundreds of small businesses on Main Street, to cities from Louisville to Pittsburgh, and schools from Arizona State to Ohio State, these American leaders are using their economic and political influence to shift the United States to clean energy and send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to climate action and delivering on the Paris Agreement." 
 
To view the full statement, quotes and list of signatories, visit: www.WeAreStillIn.com

For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org 

US Intent to Withdraw from Paris Agreement Triggers Renewed Call to Action

1. June 2017 - 2:00
GLAND, Switzerland (1 June, 2017) – President Donald Trump today announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Agreement, the world's first global plan to address climate change. This announcement is a call to action to national and local governments, businesses and people worldwide to step up their commitments to address climate change.
 
The historic agreement, approved in December 2015, commits nearly 200 countries to pursue all efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C to stave off some of the worst impacts of a warming planet.
 
In response, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice Leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said: "The Paris Agreement is the world's collective response to tackling climate change. But the transformative power of the Paris Agreement lies in the targets that it triggers, and nations must hold each other accountable for their promises.
 
"A race to the bottom when it comes to our efforts to cut carbon pollution benefits no one as climate change affects everyone.
 
"Cities, states, companies and the public in the US and around the world support climate action, and are already contributing to creating low-carbon economies from the bottom up.
 
"Fortunately, the Paris Agreement is bigger than any one nation or any one government. We can still achieve the promise of Paris, but we have no time to lose. Countries around the world must seize the opportunity to unleash this potential, invest in renewable energy that eliminates harmful carbon pollution, and build economies that are more resilient, inclusive and prosperous."
 
 Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund-US said: "The Paris Agreement emerged as nations put aside politics to collectively reverse course on this threat to our way of life. The US helped lead that charge. 
 
"Honoring our commitments and delivering on our promises have been hallmarks of US domestic and international policy. US environmental laws and regulations have served as models for such policies around the world.

"The Paris Agreement does more than tie nations together around a common vision. It creates a blueprint for cooperation, for political stability, and job creation. Our booming nation's clean energy economy employs more than 3.3 million Americans – more than all the jobs in the fossil fuel industry combined. The players in the real American economy understand we don't have to choose between economic prosperity and a safer future for our families and communities.

"From big retailers like Walmart to electric utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric to technology companies like Google and Apple, American businesses have been steadfast in their support for the Paris Agreement. Oil, gas and coal companies like Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, and Peabody Coal have supported staying in the Paris Agreement, which makes today's announcement all the more confounding.

"Pulling out of Paris would make it harder for our country, and the world, to reach a safer and more prosperous future. In a world made safer by agreements between nations, we urge the Trump Administration to reconsider, and stand with American businesses, mayors and governors supporting the Paris Agreement. This prioritizes the jobs and long-term stability America needs."

Contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za 

 

World leaders forge ahead on Paris Agreement despite uncertain United States

27. May 2017 - 2:00
TAORMINA, Italy (27 May, 2017) – Six of the world's largest economies today reaffirmed their support for the Paris Agreement and its continued implementation at a meeting of the G7 in Taormina, Sicily.
The meeting was attended by heads of all G7 member nations, and ends today.
 
While the leaders reached consensus on the need to harness economy opportunities and job creation offered by the clean energy transition and to provide support to developing countries, the US deferred announcing its continued endorsement of the Paris climate agreement.
 
In response, WWF issued the following statement:
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice said: "Leaders from six of the world's largest economies made it clear that climate change remains a top priority and they showed their commitment to delivering on the Paris climate deal. This is heartening, even though the US is still wavering. The co-benefits of a transition to a clean energy future include job creation, innovation opportunities and growth, and G7 leaders acknowledged that today. Their commitment to support developing countries, including with financial support, is critical to ensuring we keep warming below 1.5°C. They must take this spirit to the G20 meeting in Germany in July."
 
Gaetano Benedetto, WWF-Italy CEO, said: "We recognise the leadership and determination of the Italian Presidency and EU countries to keep climate at the top of the global political agenda: the final G7 Communique is a sign that they have been able to agree on the facts and opportunities. The impact of climate change is a more pressing issue than ever. Each country has a moral responsibility to act. We appreciate that the Italian Presidency and other countries supporting the Paris accord, while taking on a collaborative spirit, did not give up on principles and the urgency to act now. Now, we ask the Italian Government to show more courage and determination than ever in climate action in Italy and in the EU: it is a duty towards citizens and future generations. Future deadlines, from the National Energy Strategy to the Decarbonisation Strategy, will be further opportunities to build authoritativeness also at international level.

Lou Leonard, World Wildlife Fund-US' senior vice president of climate change and energy said: "On his first trip abroad, President Trump found a world -- from its major economies to Pope Francis -- united in support of climate action and the Paris Agreement. It's deeply troubling that the US would not join world leaders in endorsing the Paris Agreement, particularly in light of the overwhelmingly clear support for the Agreement expressed by the major players in the real American economy including over 1,000 US businesses large and small. It is more obvious than ever that American business, states, universities and cities have picked up the mantle of US leadership on climate change while over 3 million Americans are employed in the clean energy economy and solar and wind jobs are growing at 12 times the national average. Even so, lasting solutions to our global crises have always required clear political leadership and we strongly encourage the Trump Administration to take steps to fully implement US participation in the Paris Agreement. The future of the US economy and of global security cannot afford to see the US backtrack on the progress it has made."

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For further information, contact:
 
Cristina Maceroni c.maceroni@wwf.it / @WWFitalia / +39-329-8315725 
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za / @climateWWF / +27 72 393 0027

G7 must act with urgency to meet climate commitments – and then do more

25. May 2017 - 2:00
ROME, Italy (25 May, 2017) – Leaders of the world's seven big economies must show the way on climate action by fulfilling the commitments they made in the Paris Agreement, and then doing more.
 
Commenting on the upcoming meeting of the Group of 7 (G7) in Sicily, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said it was incumbent on the G7 members to accelerate decarbonisation to limit warming to well below 2.0°C, aiming for 1.5°C, as set out in the global climate Paris Agreement.
 
The G7 countries are Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, the United States, the UK plus the European Union.
 
"The G7 leaders are meeting just months after 2016 was declared the hottest year ever. The signs are there. The world in unbalanced and human-induced emissions is the main cause. Rising temperatures are affecting the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities. Biodiversity loss is weakening nature's ability to provide the services on which human survival depends," he said.
 
So while it will require a huge collective effort to tackle the challenges of climate change, the efforts of the G7 would be significant. "They must rally the political will needed to take immediate climate action at scale. Yes, the plan for climate action must be addressed in the UNFCCC. But informal discussions between leaders – such as will occur in Sicily this weekend – can result in increased momentum," said Pulgar-Vidal.

"Any uncertainty about the US commitment to the Paris Agreement should be a call to action for governments worldwide to double down on their own commitments and hold each other accountable. No single government will define the ultimate outcome of our efforts to address climate change," he said.
 
WWF-Italy's Mariagrazia Midulla said the Pope's meeting with US President Trump yesterday was timeous. "The choice to make the gift of the Encyclical Laudato Sì to President Trump highlights the Pope as a very important actor for all those who are committed to saving the planet from climate change.
 
"The speed and scale of the climate challenge has always required solutions from all sectors of society, including the religious sector. Globally, political leaders have the support they need to accelerate their progress, and it's coming from cities, regional governments, businesses and the public.
 
"Italy's motto for its G7 presidency is "building the foundations for renewed trust" with citizens," says Midulla. "In order to build real trust, it is important that Italy - and the other G7 leaders - maintain their commitments on climate and for the Paris Agreement, and increase them as the urgency of the problem requires. This is not the time to falter. It is the time to show reliability."
 
Countries which do will reap the economic benefits in the form of increased jobs, improved health for citizens and a clean, safe environment, she said.
 
G7 countries should also fulfil their commitments with the most vulnerable countries on climate finance.

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For further information, contact:
Cristina Maceroni  c.maceroni@wwf.it  +39-329-8315725 
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za  +27 72 393 0027

Harnessing Nature to Manage Rising Flood Risk

24. May 2017 - 2:00
WASHINGTON, D.C. (24, May 2017 - 8:00am ET) – Worldwide, flood risk will continue to rise as cities grow larger and rainstorms become more intense, making conventional engineering insufficient as the sole approach to flood management.  "Natural and Nature-Based Flood Management: A Green Guide" released today by WWF, introduces an integrated framework for flood management, drawing on policy, green infrastructure and conventional engineering to help communities adapt and better manage growing flood risk.
 
Globally, flooding is the most common disaster risk, accounting for nearly half of all weather-related disasters during the past 20 years.  Exposure and vulnerability to flood risks are on the rise: the proportion of the world population living in flood-prone river basins has increased about 114 percent and population exposed to coastal areas has grown 192 percent during the last decade.
 
"We can't afford to continue to invest in short term solutions that don't take into account how weather patterns, sea levels and land use are changing the nature and severity of flooding," said Anita van Breda, World Wildlife Fund's senior director of environment and disaster. "The traditional approaches we've used to manage flooding in the past – like sea walls and levees – in most cases, won't work in isolation for the types of floods we're likely to experience in the future."
 
The Flood Green Guide, developed in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U.S.  Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), provides a step-by-step framework for flood managers to understand the factors contributing to flood risk in their region, and to pull together the appropriate policies, nature based solutions, and traditional engineering to address the problem. 
 
"New roads, tunnels and bridges should not only be able to withstand more severe flooding, but ideally contribute to the community's resilience and safety," said van Breda. "Our framework encourages engineers, flood managers, planners, community members, and policymakers to collaborate around the table from the start to work together addressing multiple objectives."
 
The guide promotes using non-structural methods such as land use zoning as first step, and then integration of natural and nature-based methods, combined with hard engineering if needed, to manage flood risk. Natural and nature-based methods, like upstream reforestation, green roofs on downstream urban areas and wetland restorations and management can improve the function of - and reduce overall costs associated with - conventional engineering. They also allow communities to reap the co-benefits the environment can provide such as: cleaner water, reduced air temperatures and green space for human recreation while protecting livelihoods such as agriculture and fishing.
 
"Floods do not recognize national or administrative boundaries," said Sezin Tokar, Senior Hydrometeorological Hazard Advisor for USAID/OFDA.  "Any action in one part of the watershed will affect everyone else living in the watershed.  That's why an integrated and basin-wide approach is critical to save lives and protect the property of people living near the water."
 
The guide will be supported by a training curriculum (currently under development), specifically designed for those responsible for flood risk management, including municipal governments, community groups and non-governmental organizations worldwide.
 
"We need to design and develop systems that can adapt to changing circumstances while also keeping our communities, infrastructure, and environment safe," said van Breda. "The most durable flood management strategies are locally specific and factor in what's happening in the watershed, both upstream and downstream of individual projects."

For more information about the guide or to view the resource library, visit: http://envirodm.org/flood-management

Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians at risk: A UNESCO World Heritage concern

22. May 2017 - 2:00
Bratislava, 22 May 2017 – On International Biodiversity Day and days after UNESCO expressed concern regarding the future of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians in Slovakia, WWF urges the Slovak government to take action to secure the country's world heritage. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee's draft decision, published last Friday, highlighted that the Slovak part of the transboundary World Heritage Site continues to be threatened by logging, despite the efforts of the government targeting to strengthen the management of the park. According to the draft: "unless urgent measures are taken to address the lack of an adequate protection regime (....), their protection from logging and other potential threats cannot be guaranteed in the long-term, which would clearly constitute a potential danger to the outstanding universal value of this serial transnational property as a whole".
 
The Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 and is located in three countries: Slovakia, Ukraine and Germany. The Slovak part of the site includes unique 200 year old beech trees and more than 300 year old clusters of silver fir, and is home to grey wolves, European bisons, brown bears and lynx.
 
However, the 33,670.2 hectares of outstanding natural heritage is not all protected appropriately. Inaccuracies in the designation documents, lack of communication with landowners and land users as well as incoherence between nature conservation and forestry legislation has led to long-lasting conflicts in the Slovak part of the site. As a result, current economic activities including forestry and tourism development may seriously damage more than half of the Slovak site where a strict non-intervention protection is currently not applied.
 
"Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians represent outstanding natural values in the Slovak but also global context. There is a risk that we lose these valuable old-growth forests and many rare and protected species inhabiting the area. It is time for the Slovak Government to show political responsibility to safeguard the area for the benefit of nature and people", said Miroslava Plassmann, Director of WWF in Slovakia.
 
WWF Slovakia urges the government to take strong action towards the protection of the UNESCO site.
"Proper management and effective mechanism for compensation of landowners is necessary along with sustaining livelihoods for local communities. Only these steps can ensure that universal values survive for future generations" – Plassmann said.
 
 
For more information:
Helena Carska, hcarska@wwfdcp.org
WWF Slovakia
+421 911 184344

Bonn sets foundation for climate action ahead of COP23

18. May 2017 - 2:00
Bonn (18 May 2017) – Climate negotiators have kept their focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the mid-year round of UN climate talks in Bonn ending today, setting the course for a substantive outcome at COP23.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice said it was encouraging to see that discussions in Bonn were not around whether or not the Paris Agreement was needed but rather about the details of its implementation. "This sends a strong signal that the climate negotiations are not being paralysed by politics. Rather, negotiators have engaged in the technical discussions that are required to make substantial progress by COP23 on the rules that will guide the implementation of the agreement," he said.

Pulgar-Vidal emphasized the urgency to scale up equitable climate ambition by all countries, with non-State actors such as business, cities, regional governments and the public also contributing to galvanising climate action. "From now through November, we have to ensure we get the impetus to increase ambition. Other international processes – like the G7 and G20 – offer immediate political moments where leaders can show their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and scaling up of climate action."

While the technical discussions were only expected to progress incrementally during this session, faster progress ahead is essential. "We only have 18 months left to complete the rulebook, so we must see the pace pick up if it is to be completed on time." 

COP23 will take place in Bonn between 6 and 17 November 2017 and will be hosted by Fiji. This is the first time an island state has led the negotiations. "The Fijian COP Presidency has made a strong impression and is eager to ensure a successful COP."

For further information contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za 

Ministries, conservation groups and indigenous communities unite to protect biodiversity and the rights of indigenous peoples

4. May 2017 - 2:00
Indigenous people who include, Baka, Bagyéli, Bakola, Bedzang and Mbororos make up 10 percent of Cameroon's population of 23 million people. For centuries, these communities have conserved their traditional way of life, customs and culture, possessing a unique identity and precious inter-generational knowledge of preserving natural resources. However, they have faced longstanding challenges related to marginalization and the April workshop, organized by the ministry with support from WWF, marked a critical step forward in building an inclusive dialogue and approach to addressing some of the issues faced.

Cameroon Minister of Social Affairs, Madame Pauline Irène Nguene, while opening the workshop, said the country has adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which seek to fight poverty and inequality while protecting the environment. "We need to synergize our actions to ensure protection and rational exploitation of natural resources in the interest of the local population in general and the indigenous people in particular to attain these objectives," she said.National Observatory for indigenous peopleThe ministries represented at the workshop included the Ministries of Forestry and Wildlife, Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development, a representative from the Prime Minister's Office, civil society organizations, international NGOs, development partners and indigenous people associations. The two-day workshop concluded with the adoption of a three-year action plan as well as the decision to create a National Observatory for indigenous peoples.

Participants agreed such an observatory will contribute "immensely" to ensuring that the rights of indigenous people are respected in implementation of projects on biodiversity conservation. Strengthening of ongoing actions and solutions such as training of actors in the respect of human rights, establishment of a mechanism for resolution of conflicts in biodiversity conservation projects, greater involvement of indigenous people in such projects were also recommended.

During the workshop, as indigenous communities voiced their concerns, they also highlighted the magnitude of threats facing biodiversity, resources they have depended upon for centuries and underscored the need to step up efforts against poaching and ivory trafficking. "We wish to salute the efforts made by conservation organizations and the government to protect these resources which we Baka rely on for subsistence," stated Mopolo Etienne, a Baka from Mintom, South Region of Cameroon. "We feel honored this meeting was organized to discuss the protection of our rights and appreciate the attention and readiness of all stakeholders to support us," Mopolo said. "Baka have always supported conservation efforts and will continue to work with all actors to keep our environment and biodiversity safe," he added.
 Pressure on Natural resourcesSamuel Nguiffo, Director of the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), a national NGO, also highlighted the danger posed by poaching and the urgency to take action while respecting the rights of indigenous people. "There is huge pressure on natural resources. Poachers armed with automatic weapons are decimating wildlife systematically," Nguiffo said. "The menace has now taken an international dimension thus requiring a different response from government, to ensure protection of what is left of Cameroon's biodiversity," he said.  Nguiffo called for greater involvement of indigenous people in biodiversity conservation activities and proposed that the government ministries work together with local communities to resolve any conflict or challenge that may arise as they aim to jointly protect valuable biodiversity.

Dr. Hanson Njiforti, WWF Cameroon Country Program Director, who participated in the workshop, said, "We are comforted by the fact that participants across the board recognized that the environment is in peril and showed a sense of urgency to take action." Dr. Njiforti said WWF welcomed the creation of a national observatory for indigenous people and will continue to work closely with minority groups to protect the environment.

The workshop was attended by international NGOs including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF, INADES formation Cameroon, Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Several local civil society organizations including CEFAID, APIFED, Okani, GOMITRI, and ASBAK also participated in the workshop. Amougou Victor, who heads CEFAID, an NGO defending the rights of Baka, said "the workshop reiterated the need for local NGOs to be more involved in issues related to indigenous people's rights and conservation."